I’m sure you’ve been in many meetings where the chairperson or meeting facilitator does most of the talking. There’s the discussion of business, summary of past activity and general announcements. Many times, people are hesitant to speak up, so the chair just fills in the quiet spaces.
If you’re a chairperson, you know the feeling too. You begin to wonder why others don’t have anything to say. Sure, you can count on the secretary and treasurer to deliver prepared reports. You probably even have one or two talkative committee members who can go on and on.
The leader who does most of the talking can be an asset in certain situations, but to get the ideas flowing and the brains storming, try being quiet for a change.
This goes back to the concept of the chairperson’s two roles as participant and facilitator. There are times when the chair needs to move things along, such as during committee member reports and when transitioning between sections of the meeting. There are other times when the committee members should be free to have their say, maybe with a little coaxing, rather than the chair doing the talking.
It’s times like these when the chairperson needs to sit back and listen to what’s being said by others. A free-for-all discussion can bring out a lot of great ideas, especially when the creative aspect needs to be emphasized, and the chair needs to let everyone be heard without injecting his or her own thoughts until everyone has had a turn. If the chairperson starts out with his ideas, others are more inclined to just agree, rather than thinking of things on their own.
It may be difficult for you to just listen without dropping in your opinion or ideas every time someone says something. Do your best to avoid chiming in, but do move the discussion so everyone has a chance, but write down or otherwise note your thoughts so you can bring them up at an appropriate time.
Face it: You probably don’t have all the answers, or the best ones. Let others have their say, and you may just uncover the highest and best solution through collaborative thinking.